How To tips for laundry is probably not on the top of your basket of things to do, right?
At our house, laundry isn’t really started until people are complaining about not having clean underwear. I’m just keeping it real here.
Something we’ve worked on the last year or two is introducing a chores list for my kids. Instead of giving out a weekly allowance, my kids have to work through the chore chart and every couple weeks get paid based on what they have done. There are two things I’m hoping to accomplish by implementing the chore chart: they learn about earning money and they learn how to do laundry.
Some people don’t ever learn how to do laundry when they are growing up. Yes, it’s true! I had friends I went to college with that had no idea how to do laundry. So here are some how to tips for laundry that are for starters, and ideas for people that have washed laundry since they were 2 years old.
The first “How to Tips for Laundry” doesn’t have anything to do with the actual cleaning process but is something to think about. Having a specific location to collect dirty laundry saves time and sanity. We have a specific place to put dirty cloths and linens in each of the bedroom areas. Since my kids were 4 years old and up I’ve started teaching them to not just drop cloths on the floor but place them in the basket in the closet. This also makes it carry the load to the laundry room. If you are using a laundry mat, you’ll need to determine what is the easiest way to get the clothes there whether it’s a laundry basket, giant laundry bag, or wagon which I’m kind of kidding but not. LOL Also be sure to have a way to pay for the clothes when you get there. Whether it is a coin laundry mat or one that accepts cards, it’ll just about drive you coocoo if you schlep a heaping basket full of dirties to be cleaned only to discover you don’t have any way to pay!
You will want to separate clothes two ways – fabric type and color.
SORT BY FABRIC TYPE – There are certain fabrics that should not be washed in a machine – silk, wool, rayon, and linen. These will either need to be dry cleaned or hand cleaned and air-dried. Always check the tag on the cloths before washing. Use this article and app from Love2Laundry.com to understand what the label’s different symbols represent – The Infographic Guide to Laundry and Washing Symbols
Fabrics that should be able to go in a washing machine are polyester, nylon, spandex, acrylic, and acetate. These shouldn’t shrink and will resist water-based stains but remember always check the tag on the cloths before washing. Cotton should also be able to be machine washed but make sure these are washed in cold or warm (not hot) water. And remember always check the tag on the cloths.
SORT BY COLOR – Any cloths or towels that are white or red shouldn’t be washed with other colored items. The colors can mess up the other colors. Make sure to wash only whites together and only reds together. Other colors usually can be mixed in the same load of laundry but again check the tags to make sure. TIP: When you purchase new clothing, be sure to wash it before wearing and “set the dye” by adding a cup of vinegar to the washing machine.
Machine wash clothes
As noted above, always check labels before washing. For the items that can be machine washed, they may need to be washed in hot, warm or cold water. Generally, I wash everything in cold water.
STAINS – Address stains before the clothes even make it into the machine. Some light, insignificant stains can be removed just by washing clothes in the washer. Some other stains need lots more attention. When any stain occurs, the best thing you can do generally is place the fabric in cool water, swish around a little, and let soak. For more specific stain removal check out this chart by RealSimple.com https://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/cleaning/more-techniques/how-to-remove-stains
DETERGENT – There are three main types of laundry detergent – liquid, powder, and pods. My favorite type of laundry detergent is liquid. Some people love the new pods and others prefer powder. Whichever type you prefer, follow the packaging directions. If your home is attached to a septic tank, make sure the detergent is septic safe.
ALLERGIES – If you have allergies to certain dyes or scents, be sure to purchase laundry detergent specially formulated to be allergy free. We have used Dreft https://amzn.to/2KF6GAn or All Free and Clear https://amzn.to/2FLYbPW in the past but there are several allergy free options on the market today and what works for one person may not work for another. I suggest getting the smallest bottle possible to start and test it out with a load or two until you find a detergent perfect for your household.
Dry the laundry
MACHINE DRY – Another “How to Tips for Laundry” is to check the labels to make sure the clothes can be machine dried and follow directions. Different materials may require different drying temperatures.
THE LINT FILTER – Remember to empty the lint filter after every load and keep the dryer clean of lint. It is very very important to do this because the U.S. Fire Administration reports that 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. YIKES! So cleaning the lint filter means pulling out the lint filter and using your hand to remove all the lint and then putting the filter back into the machine. This can be at different spots depending on the machine. It can be right inside the door on the bottom, at the back wall of the inside of the machine, on top of the machine under the setting buttons, etc.
DRYER SHEETS & FABRIC SOFTENER – When machine drying clothes, a dryer sheet or fabric softener if there is an automatic fabric softener dispenser can be used. These are suppose to reduce or eliminate static electricity and can have a pleasant fragrance. It is important to note that dryer sheets and/or fabric softener can cause allergic reactions so test these first before using on all clothes. Want to learn more about the science of dryer sheets? Check out this article from HowStuffWorks.com https://home.howstuffworks.com/dryer-sheets.htm
AIR DRY – If the clothes cannot be machine dried, there are a couple ways to dry the clothes based on the type of fabric. Sweaters generally need to be laid flat to dry. I generally put these on a flat towel on top of the dryer. If you have lots of items that have to lay flat to dry, check out these stackable sweater drying racks on Amazon. (Because I live in the hot south, I literally own maybe 2 sweaters which means I don’t really need any stackable drying racks.)
Another way to dry clothes are to hang dry. This can be done with a laundry line or on a hanger. There are retractable laundry lines that can be installed indoors or out.
Be sure when using these to hang most items from two places on the clothing so the weight of the fabric doesn’t pull too hard on the cloth’s pinned location and stretch fabric there. Sometimes the towels can just be thrown over the line but if you live in a windy location you may consider using at least one pin to keep it secure. If you are hanging delicate fabrics to dry, consider using a piece of white scrap fabric when using a cloths pin so that the cloths pin doesn’t damage the fabric.
Depending on how warm it is, the cloths might dry quickly or may take all afternoon. If you have fabrics that fade due to sunlight be mindful of where you install the clothesline. Lastly, remember that line drying cloths mean they might be a bit scratchier than machine dried. Sure is hard using dryer sheets in the wind. LOL
Fold the laundry
I’m not sure why but folding and putting away laundry is my least favorite part. Maybe that’s because we have 5 people in our household and I’m doing at the very least a load of laundry a day. Whatever it is, the house looks like a dump truck of dirty clothes has been unloaded in it if I don’t stay on top of the laundry… YIKES!
When I have a bunch of laundry to fold at one time, I like to start with the easy stuff like washcloths and towels. Different people like to fold towels different ways…
Fold in half three times
Fold in half twice and then in thirds
Fold in thirds long way and roll up
There are probably more ways to fold towels, but really the space available to store linens will dictate how you’ll want to fold them.
For clothing, folding the items differs again with the space available and the way you prefer to fold them. To fold shorts simple fold them in half long way and then fold them in half from top to bottom. Lately, I’ve been all about rolling up my shirts and shorts. It makes it easier to see them in the drawers because I have more room to not need to stack them. I also use a back of the door shoe organizer for my husband’s tshirt collection and it’s so handy for him to easily see each shirt.
Here is a quick photo tutorial of folding a shirt…
You can also roll the shirt instead by changing steps 6 and 7 for the below steps. This makes it super easy to store t shirts in behind the door shoe organizers.
For dresses, blouses, and pants, if you have a closet space, hanging these items is the best way to take care of them. Actually, hanging cloths is much easier and quicker than folding them. If I had the closet space I wouldn’t even have a dresser!
Put the laundry away
Hopefully you are blessed and have a dresser or closet space to put your clean cloths and linens. If not, don’t fret. There are many storage solutions ideas for keeping them corralled.
Above I mentioned utilizing a behind the door shoe organizer for t-shirts. This could also work for shorts, underwear, socks, wash cloths, and hand towels. Of topic but it can also be used for storing kitchen items, pantry items, bath items, and more. Read more about my love of behind the door shoe storage organizers here.
Under the bed storage totes are a great way to keep items organized and don’t cost a lot. I have our bed linens stored, well, under our bed in these. They really could be used as a dresser and would help save space in your over all floor plan.
Another alternative to a dresser is to use hanging sweater racks or shoe racks. These are great to use in a variety of ways. Utilize them for shoes, shirts, sweaters, blankets, linens, shorts, pants, and more.
However you plan to store your cloths and linens, remember the longer you wait to put them away properly, the more likely they will get wrinkled or clutter your visual space.
TIP: Hang all cloths so that the hanger makes a question mark. This way each of your cloths will be facing the same direction and it will be a little easier to find the cloths you’re looking for. Another tip is to hang like cloths together and then like colors together which also helps finding specific cloths.
My mom started us on chores at a very young age… 17. Naa I’m kidding more like 5 years old really. We had age appropriate chores as we grew up like picking up our toys at 5 years old and, starting I think, around 7 years old learning to iron our cloths. I can remember having to adjust the ironing board really low so I could use it because I was so little and because I’m short already. Ha!
Nowadays, clothing fabrics are used that are wrinkle resistant. Oh the rebel cloths we wear. I’m so thankful for the uprising because I don’t like ironing my cloths. Maybe it’s the hours spent Saturday afternoons watching B-rate films like Mothra while removing all those pesky wrinkles or maybe it’s that I feel my free time in my life right now is limited to between 1 and 2 am. Either way, it’s on the bottom of my chore list. Still ironing some cloths for certain occasions is still necessary.
The first thing to consider while ironing is getting the space setup. We no longer have an ironing board (which my husband didn’t realized until after 1 year) so I either use towels on my washing machine or dining room table. If you don’t have an ironing board, this is a great way to improvise. Lay the towel flat on the surface you will be using (which should be heat resistant).
TIP: Make sure you use a white towel to avoid any dye from the towel ruining your clothes.
Next step is to turn the iron on and set it to the correct temperature based on the fabric. Once again check the label to make sure you use the correct setting. When in doubt, there’s always google! LOL
Prepare the garment to be ironed. I prefer to iron cloths inside out. For shirts I generally iron the collar laid flat first, then sleeves, the front sides, and lastly the back. For pants, I generally iron near the pockets first and then down to the ankles. Always immediately hang up the clothing after ironing because they are likely to wrinkle quickly while still warm.
Ironing table cloths is fairly straight forward, start at one side and iron to the other until all of the wrinkles are out. Ironing cloth napkins are probably the easiest thing to do; they are just mini table cloths but for your lap. Curtains are another linen that can be ironed but more people than not prefer to hang these and spritz with water so while that dries the wrinkles will generally be removed as it dries. There are also steam irons on the market just for curtains and certain upholsteries.
Lastly, if you are gungho about ironing, you will probably love ironing your bed linens, underwear and socks. I know a couple people that do this. Bed linens can be ironed just like table cloths. For the undies and socks, I’m not sure the best method but want to reiterate reading the tags and googling the best temperature setting for the fabric.
While doing laundry is not the most fun thing ever, it is a necessity. Sorting, washing, drying and ironing are all part of the process but don’t have to be cumbersome. I hope this article was helpful whether you are new to taking care of your own dirty laundry or you have washed over a bazillion loads in your lifetime already.
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